A small Christmas choir takes root at VCC
By ELIZABETH SHEPHERD
Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor
December 20, 2011 · Updated 11:28 AM
’Tis the season to make a joyful noise, and members of a new Island choir are getting ready to raise their voices to celebrate the holidays.
The choir, made up of 11 staff members, volunteers and residents of Vashon Community Care, will have its debut at 2 p.m. Thursday, during VCC’s annual holiday party for residents.
Wielding the baton will be Elizabeth Anthony, a talented Island singer, performer and stage director.
Anthony was invited to lead the choir by Leona Troese, who is a social worker at the facility. Troese is also the accompanist for the group.
Last Saturday afternoon, nine members of the choir — most of them well on in years and with limited mobility — gathered in VCC’s lobby to practice their songs — a mix of beautiful standards, including “Silent Night,” “It Came Upon a Midnight Clear” and “Hark! The Herald Angels Sing.”
“We’ll start big, end big and soothe them into happiness in the middle,” said Anthony, explaining her game plan for the concert.
The singers practicing that day included residents Elmer Adam, Shirley Boardman, Ellen Johnson, Pat Mundy, Tom Johnson, Don Steele and staff member Dorothy Sutton.
As the choir began to sing in soft, clear harmony, other residents of the facility slowly drifted in to the lobby. A few parked their wheelchairs close to the group. One woman, seemingly sound asleep in a lobby chair when the rehearsal started, slowly opened her eyes and began to sing along with “Oh Come, All Ye Faithful.”
For Anthony, leading the group is a way to give back to VCC — a place she spent the month of August rehabbing after a serious health issue.
“I had such a good time here,” Anthony said. “I liked everything about it — the residents, the staff, the building, the food, everything. Before I left, I said something about volunteering here, so I’ve come back and stuffed envelopes and done some other things.”
But in leading the choir, Anthony has clearly found her niche as a VCC volunteer, and she said she’d be open to the idea of keeping the group together after the holidays.
“I think we’ve had a pretty good time, and I think we could pick up some more voices,” she said. “I’d be willing to continue.”
For now, many of the choir members seem to be enjoying the opportunity to create music together.
“Age is not a barrier to creativity,” said choir member Don Steele, who, before moving to VCC, crafted intricate pottery and shared his life with a wife who was a talented painter.
For others in the group, the choir brings more simple pleasures.
“We all need a beer now,” Elmer Adam optimistically jested at the close of the rehearsal. But when he didn’t get any takers, he seemed just as happy to head back to his room. He had a stack of Christmas cards to open, he said.
Contact Vashon-Maury Island Beachcomber Arts Editor Elizabeth Shepherd at email@example.com or 206-463-9195.